Clifford Heath

As the first UNIX geek to graduate from Melbourne University's Computer Science program, Clifford spent some years helping Hewlett Packard build the Australian Software Operation, which specialized in enterprise software development productivity tool, and was in 1989 was Australia's largest exporter of software (NBS stats). He was the inventor and lead technical co-founder at Australia's first Internet startup (the first registered .com.au domain), Open Software Associates. Joined by 24 others in a staff buyout of the User Interface Management System technology he had been designing for HP, they brought OpenUI to market in 1991, subsequently winning multiple export awards and growing to over a hundred staff and eight offices over the next decade.

Although OpenUI predated Java and the WWW by some years, it actually delivered on the goal of write-once, run anywhere, from the first day, delivering effective and beautiful user interfaces natively on all major GUI platforms and on character terminals. It used rich asynchronous messaging both internally and to transparently communicate with servers written in any of four languages (C, Cobol, Ada, Pascal) on more than 30 different Unix and proprietary platforms. Tandem deployed it to build the trading system for the targeted 10,000 NASDAQ traders, and Optus built their entire support suite using OpenUI.  OpenUI was also used extensively in Europe, notably in major German banks, where an SSL security module allowed its use in Internet banking and stock trading until quite recently.

As a proprietary technology however, the Java hype-wave swamped the product revenues without meeting the market needs, which are only now, twenty years on, being partly met by Web 2.0 technologies. Software development technologies are in general not very lucrative markets, and OSA was slow to respond to the growing dot-com excitement as it struggled into a new business as ManageSoft (in which Clifford holds the core patents), a world-leading software deployment and asset management company recently acquired by Flexera for $29M.

After leaving ManageSoft in 2007, Clifford has been consulting while developing the Constellation Query Language, a semantic modeling and query language that can encompass and supersede SQL and UML, while creating unrivalled capabilities in requirements management and end-user query. CQL integrates fluid natural language with formal logic to allow expression of business rules to an unprecedented level of detail, accuracy and comprehensibility. The core technology is open source, but Clifford is pursuing commercialisation of a web-based collaborative modeling tool called APRIMO.